Germany and Vietnam Moving to Repair Relations

Germany and Vietnam are working to repair their bilateral relationship, which deteriorated over the alleged abduction of Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh, former chairman of state-run PetroVietnam Construction Corporation (PVC) in Berlin in July 2017 by the Vietnamese intelligence services. The two countries are reportedly in negotiation to release and return Mr. Thanh to Germany.

German media reported that the two governments discussed the return of Mr. Thanh in Berlin on 1st November. The German foreign ministry only confirmed they had a meeting with Vietnam on “international and bilateral affairs”, but the major agenda of the talk was reported to be on Mr. Thanh’s treatment as his abduction was the reason to for Germany to suspend the strategic relationship with Vietnam.

According to Vietnam’s online media, VnExpress, Mr. Andreas Michaelis, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany said in the meeting with  Vietnamese delegates headed by Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Bui Thanh Son, “Vietnam has fulfilled its international commitments”, and “Germany will continue to support Vietnam to train human resources for the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and to train and employ Vietnamese nurses.” The online media commented, “Vietnam and Germany have got their bilateral relationship back on track after it soured over accusations of the ‘kidnapping’ of a fugitive.”

On the same day, German Ambassador to Vietnam Christian Berger visited a Politburo member of Vietnamese Communist Party, Mr. Nguyen Van Binh, Chairman of the Party’s Central Committee’s Economic Commission, and reportedly said, “his country wishes to actively support and foster the relationship between Vietnam and the EU, including the early signing of the EVFTA.”

The series of bilateral meetings caused speculation that Mr. Thanh, who was jailed for life for embezzlement and other crimes, has been released already. The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman dismissed the rumor at a press conference on 8th November, adding, “the two sides have had many exchanges and meetings recently to promote bilateral relations.”

(Akihide Mori, Vietnam watcher)